Monday, August 11, 2014

Gyro-Style Zucchini Sandwiches

I had one of those moments where I said, "More zucchini?  ^^ Oh!  Thanks! ^^"  (Yes, those are my sarcastic eye-brows.)

And uhhhhhhhhh..........

I have come to realize - zucchini is the tofu of the vegetable world.  You can make it almost whatever you want it to be.  But MAKE is the key.  You must MAKE it into what you want.
So this time, I will make it into a tasty sandwich.  Today, next week, and a couple of times in the future.

Now it was time to press on.
Several of them were grated for their role in zucchini pancakes and Mexican chocolate zucchini bread, but there is still more zucchini coming!

And it's not just one kind of zucchini.  It is many kinds of zucchini - 

Oh yeah, and summer squash - the zephyr yellow green (above) and the patty pan (below).

And dinner.  It is time for dinner.  And I have a thing about zucchini that's only been cooked enough to be hot, but the zucchini is soft... and to my tongue... slimy.  I like to get the excess water out of my zucchini.  (Unless it is tiny - then char and eat crunchy!!!)

What the heck - lets go for something where it is so dry, it is pleasantly chewy.  Gyros.  And that means I get to use the one herb that loves my yard - oregano.

All righty then.  I sliced my zucchini into rectangles.
This was the 3 zucchini in the 3rd picture.
I cut off the crooknecks and they
went into the tomato relish.

So - start taking the water out with a marinade and drain.

Salt, pepper, onion powder.
Alternate zucchini and sprinkle of seasoning mixture
Zucchini draining marinade: sprinkle a mix of 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp of onion powder.  Zucchini, sprinkle, layer zucchini, sprinkle etc.....

The salt and onion powder are both very good at sucking water out of the zucchini, while adding flavor.

And after an hour of draining I pulled out the zucchini slices.  I did use my fingers to strip off most of the spices so they wouldn't be too salty.

I tossed the drained zucchini with a little olive oil, chopped garlic and oregano.  And then grilled the heck out of those drained zucchini slices. 

Zucchini Grilling Toss:
oil - 2 tsp
garlic - 2 cloves
oregano (& basil or parsley) small handful, chopped

I love my cast iron griddle.
These slices will cook just as well in a skillet
or on the grill - as long as they are thick enough. 
As far as I'm concerned, half the experience of gyros are the sauces - and I love an excellent tzatziki.

"Traditional" tzatziki always contains yogurt (thicker the better - check), cucumbers (check), some acid (lemon juice or maybe vinegar - check), often chopped garlic (check) and herbs (often dill and/or mint - welllllllll...........)

So I did a little digging, and it turns out the actual combination of herbs is less important.  Tzatziki, it turns out, belongs to a Mediterranean family of sauces that contain thick yogurt, cucumber, acid, (sometimes garlic) and herbs (also cacik, jaj, or even tarator - hey I bet tatar sauce has some history with....  And while raita - of Indian origin with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic & salt, but often has chilies in it, I can't believe it has no relation.)  So the fact that I had no dill or mint, but instead parsley, oregano and cilantro presented no problem.

Summer Tzatziki (cacik, jaj, tarator or mild "no chili" raita) 
can be thrown together this way:

cucumber - 1 medium
garlic - 1-2 cloves (you decide)
lemon juice* or vinegar 1-2 tsp (you also decide)
salt (& pepper if you like) to taste
tender leaf herbs (anything you'd eat out of hand*) a handful or 2.

cutting board
bowl - for draining
bowl - for serving

Peel the cucumber and chop into cubes about the size of the top joint of your pinky (under 1/2", close to 1/4"), sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of salt and let it sit for about 30 - 60 min.

Quickly rinse the cucumber, and squeeze it dry in a paper towel or two.  Stir the cucumber
Chop the garlic and herbs.
Stir them into the yogurt.  Add lemon juice/vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

This will keep for a week and a bit in the fridge.  But you'll likely eat it all up - on this, and crackers, pretzels and as a dressing.  (It can be thinned with dairy, oil or vinegar & oil)

(Nom, nom, nom... sampling, sampling.  No really!  This is for research.)
*tender leaf herbs - these are the things you'd chop up and happily eat raw.  Basil, sorrel, parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel, chives, mint and the like.


Half way there.  
Since I was serving this to my raw tomato hating husband... but I wanted the sweet/acid punch of tomato along with the herby, creamy yogurt, I had to come up with...

Sundried Tomato Relish

1/4 C sun/oven dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/4 C roughly chopped zucchini (this is where those crook neck pieces went)
1 tsp (or so) white balsamic vinegar (champagne or cane juice vinegar will sub in.  Or rice vinegar in a pinch)
salt & pepper to taste


Blend the tomatoes and zucchini together.  Then adjust the sweet/sour balance with the vinegar, and add just enough salt and pepper to make it taste delicious.  This will be pretty thick and spreadable, and good for this sandwich and many others.


Then all you need is the warmed pita bread, add the grilled, spice zucchini, tzatziki, tomato relish and even a confirmed carnivore will enjoy.

Pro Tip: As long as you state Up Front that this is a Zucchini Sandwich in the gyro style, even Total Carnivores will be happy.  Only people who feel like they've been fooled will be annoyed.  And even they might forgive you.

P.S. For make ahead fans:  This zucchini can fridge or freeze and then be heated in the toaster or re-roasted in the oven... and still work!

P.P.S.  Some people feel that a tahini drizzle is essential for a true gyro experience.  I'm on board.  In fact, I have a recipe.  Drizzle away.  (Tahini is part of umami heaven).

Tahini Drizzle: for extras

Tahini - 2Tbs (or 3 Tbs sesame seeds ground to paste)
garlic - 1 clove crushed or minced
salt - 1 pinch
oil - 2 tsp (olive is best)
lemon juice - 2 tsp (or cider vinegar)
parsley (optional) - healthy sprinkle

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